Re: Use of A and AN

Subject: Re: Use of A and AN
From: Paul Inbar <inbar -at- ELRON -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 15:52:23 +0200

Good Evening, Lynda (it's evening here),

Go by whether the acronym is pronounced as a word or a series of letters. If as
a word it would get "a" use "a". If the word would get "an" use "an". If as a
series of letters, the name of the first letter would get "a", use "a", "an" if


NBC (pronounced as a series of letters "en bee cee"): an NBC employee ("an"
because the name of the letter "en" gets "an" ) (I saw an "N" in the alphabet)

NATO (pronounced as a word): a NATO employee: "a" because a word starting with
"n" (the sound n) gets "a".

There are rules about vowels and consonants, but there are a lot of regular
exceptions, and I don't think the solution needs such detail.

Anyway, hope this is helpful

Paul Inbar

Just a question: if you are 5, why couldn't you come to a decision? Someone
abstain? :)


> Good morning,
> In our office we have 5 technical writers that are split on the use of A
> and AN prior to accronyms. Is there a rule of thumb regarding the use of
> either before accronyms? The argument is to use AN if the accronym
> begins with a vowel or a soft constant, such as N.
> Any ideas?
> Cheers,
> Lynda

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